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NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (DP5)

Modified: November 3, 2015

The NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards provide an opportunity for exceptional junior scientists to accelerate their entry into an independent research career by forgoing the traditional post-doctoral training period.  For these select investigators, who have established a record of scientific innovation and research productivity and who have demonstrated unusual leadership, drive, and maturity, post-doctoral training would unnecessarily delay their entry into performing independent research.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a limited submission opportunity and specific instructions for submitting the MANDATORY INTERNAL LETTER OF INTENT, including the Department Chair Letter is below.


  • At the time of application, the individual either 1) within the preceding twelve months must have received a terminal doctoral degree or completed medical residency or 2) within the following twelve months must complete all the requirements for a doctoral degree or complete a medical residency.
  • At the time of application, the PD/PI must NOT have served as a post-doctoral fellow following a previous doctoral degree for more than one year.
  • The individual must also not be the PD/PI of an NIH R01 or equivalent grant at the time of award.


  • Internal Letter of Intent Due: November 23rd (by midnight)
  • Sponsor Letter of Intent Due (optional): December 29th
  • Sponsor Proposal Due:  January 29, 2016

Candidates interested in applying are required to submit a letter of intent (LOI) that includes a Department Chair letter by the deadline specified above. If interest exceeds the number of submissions the university is allowed, an internal competition will be held. Typically, all investigators that submit an LOI will be invited to submit an internal proposal. Occasionally, as appropriate, based on the LOI, only selected applicants will be invited to submit an internal proposal.

  1. Click HERE to access the LOI form.
  2. Obtain a signed Department Chair letter that is responsive to Section IV. 2: “Application and Submission Information” under “Facilities and Other Resources”, as described in the full solicitation, that includes the following components:
    • Position details
    • Institutional resources commitment
    • Institutional career development commitment.
  3. Compile the letter of intent and Department Chair letter as a single PDF file.
  4. Name the file as follows:  “LastName-FirstInitial-NIH-DP5-2016”, replacing “LastName” with your last name and “First Initial” with your first initial.
  5. Click on this link.
  6. Login with your Northwestern NetID and password.
  7. Under the “Limited Submissions - Office of Research Development” heading, click “Apply” next to the “Letter of Intent: NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (DP5)(RFA-RM-15-006)”.
  8. Update your profile.
    • ​Populate the following fields: Phone, Title, and Department.
    • Click on “Save draft and continue” to save your profile and move to the competition application page.​
  9. Insert proposal title.  Click on “Save draft and continue.”
  10. Click the Browse or Choose File button and navigate to your file on your hard drive or network.  Select your file and click “Submit”.  No supplemental documents are accepted.

Note: You will receive a confirmation email from ORD indicating that your application was received.

Fruma Yehiely, Associate Vice President for Research, Director of Office of Research Development, 847-491-1074, Limited Submissions website

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